I'm shooting the crop sensor Canon 550D for about 4 years now. As everything got a bit more serious after my trip to Australia in 2014 I've been trying to get as much out of this entry level camera as I could. However in the last few months I've been increasingly hitting the limits of this little guy. Now as I booked the flight to Iceland and got everything prepared for this trip I was faced with the question whether I'll go on that journey with my four-year companion the 550D or whether I'll be upgrading to a decent full frame monster the Canon 5D Mark III.
Eventually I decided to get that monster - and here's why:
1. Low-light performance:
This is probably one of the crucial factors why I upgraded. I actually was sick of not being able to get over ISO 400 or 800 without getting a shit loads of noise in my pictures. Especially when it was about printing. I literally could sort out those photos. It's as simple as this: the smaller the sensor, the less ability it has to capture the light and the more noise you get. With its 22,3mm x 14,9mm the sensor of the Canon 550D is more than twice as small as the 36mm x 24mm sensor of the Canon 5d Mark III and doesn't really get a chance to reach the levels of the full frame camera.
2. more details and information:
Due to the siginificantly bigger sensor which provides more space for pixels the Canon 5D Mark III is able to capture more details, image information and dynamic range compared to the APS-C camera which leads to a slightly better quality.
3. no cropping:
The most visible difference between crop sensors and full frame sensors is the field of view. As the name already tells, the crop sensor cameras are cropping the image by a certain factor. If I take the exact same image with the same lens on the Canon 5D Mark III and then on the the Canon 550D I'll notice that the APS-C camera is cropping out the edges and I'll get a tighter field of view.
In this case the focal length of my lens is multiplied by the factor 1.6 on the crop sensor. Due to this kind of zoomed in photo you're not going to get the same image quality as on a full frame sensors.
In addition to that there are a lot more high quality wide angle lenses for full frame sensor DSLR's as there are for crop sensor ones. For example if I want to get a 16mm shot there are several 16mm primes or 16-35mm options to get. With an APS-C camera you'd need a 10mm lens in order to reach that focal length, of which there aren't really as many choices.
A full frame camera has a shallower depth of field than a crop sensor camera. When shooting at the same focal length (for example a 50mm on a full frame and a 80mm on a APS-C), using the same aperture settings the full frame camera will have a shallower depth of field than the crop sensor camera. Especially when you're shooting portraits this bokeh-effect is what makes your image look so much better. So for all the bokeh-lovers out here, this is just perfect for you!
5. versitility of the EF-lenses:
A huge advantage of the EF-lenses for canon's full frame cameras is that you can easily swap lenses between APS-C cameras and the full frame ones. As for that I could just take those lenses with my Canon 550D in order to get closer to the subject (based on the 1.6 crop factor) which is quite helpful when shooting sports or wildlife. The other way round it wouldn't be possible to use the EF-S-lenses I bought for the 550D on my 5D Mark III. So if I'd stay with my APS-C camera buying lots of other lenses and would eventually want to upgrade to a full-frame camera in the future it would be much more expensive as I had to get all the EF-lenses on top of that.
6. weather sealed body:
This doesn't really affect the upgrade to a full frame sensor but an upgrade in general. As I'm mainly a landscape and architectural photographer I'm always out in any weather conditions. This can cause a huge damage on your camera and sensor if it isn't as weather sealed as it would have to be to be able to shoot in such conditions. Canon's pro body's are coming with that feature which protects your sensor against dust or water.
Of course it is a huge pain to your hard-earned money to upgrade to a full frame camera but in my opinion it's really worth the pennies if you're totally getting into the world of photography especially concerning landscape or architectural photography where you're pleased about any detail you can capture. If you're rather a sport or wildlife photographer it would surely be the wrong step as you need the additional focal length and the higher frame rates which cameras like the 7D, 70D or 1D are coming with.
What camera are you guys using? Are you going to uprade or are you satisfied with the one you got? Feel free to comment below.
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If you want to know more about the specs of Canon's DSLR's simply check out their website.